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Back to themas

Musique de tables

De Mey, Thierry (Belgium)


Folk you

Folk you (United Kingdom)


The Gold Rush

Chaplin, Charlie (United States) 1925

Choreographer(s) : Chaplin, Charlie (United Kingdom)

Video producer : MK2

Take a look at this work in the video library

Agwa [Hand dance]

Merzouki, Mourad (France)


Solo (excerpt from Namasya)

Shivalingappa, Shantala (France)


Kiss & Cry

De Mey, Michèle Anne (Belgium)


Why does hand dancing make us laugh or smile and why is it generally ever-so rhythmic and melodious?

Thanks to their 5 fingers, 27 bones, umpteen muscles and lifelines, hands grasp, manipulate, count, pray, caress, accompany speech and even go as far as replacing it with sign language.

In the collective psyche, music is played by two, sometimes even four hands and feet dance. Yet, hands are also highly capable of calling the tune, leading the dance and using tables as a floor.


Musiques de tables – Thierry De Mey

For this creation, performed by 3 percussionists and their 6 hands playing on a table, Thierry de Mey highlights an ambience of various figures that give rise to a variety of sounds with the different ways the hands strike the table: flat-hand, backhand, hand-chop, fist-hit, finger-flick, hand-edge, fingertips, stone.

What is surprising is the contrast between the performers’ stoicism and the variation of their hands, which are incredibly precise. Here, hands become real instruments and create a dance of sounds and gestures.

Light music – Thierry De Mey

With Light music, Thierry de Mey centres stages an orchestra conductor without an orchestra, a percussionist without percussion... a percussionist who “triggers sounds and musical sequences manipulates them in time and space, loops them, rips them apart, makes them resonate”.

Folk you - Collectif Up & Over it

Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding present themselves as “hand dancers”. Mind-blowing Irish dance performers, they decided to use their hands to symbolize this dance where, traditionally, only legs and feet are required.

They intend to move Irish dance away from the all-predictable, highly-formatted pigeon-hole of major galas and international championships and rediscover the pleasure, the mischievousness and quintessence of the original rhythm. This traditional dance, which migrated to the United States in the suitcases of thousands of Irish women and men, played a great role in music-hall and musical comedy dances which developed throughout the 20th century, in particular tap dancing.

« The Roll dance » extract from Gold Rush – Charlie Chaplin

No-one can resist this dance that Charlie performs on the edge of a restaurant table with two forks and two rolls of bread. He becomes a puppet-master and a dancer at the same time, he plays on the contrast between his hands and his facial expressions. The moment the dance and the music kick off, the rolls of bread become ‘real’ characters and we, as spectators, are immediately filled with empathy. Charlie dares to play like a child and finds himself believing in his little bread roll-dancers; he takes us on a journey into his personal fantasy, into his imaginary world.

Agwa – Mourad Merzouki

The strength of the last scene of this choreography lies in the sensitivity, gentleness and attention that these hip-hop dancers, who are generally on their feet working on speed and virtuosity, carry in their hands. The hands, in synergy with the water that this work takes its inspiration from, connect us with the poetry and fragility of the performers.

Le P’tit bal – Philippe Decouflé

Philippe Decouflé has always been interested in signs, movements and sketches, which can instantaneously, upon simple observation, conjure up a memory or provoke an emotion.

Backed by a song by Bourvil, Philippe Decouflé and Pascale Houbin use their hands to make signs and accessories dance. Instead of offering us play on words, they propose hand-play, visual and gestural winks.

Kiss & cry – Michèle Anne De Mey

An entire show performed by hands, accompanied by a ballet of technicians, cameras and accessories.

This was the challenge that the filmmakert Jaco Van Dormael, and the choreographer Michèle Anne de Mey, ltook on... they refer to it as “nanodances”. Like two children, they create and film on sight a miniature world, where the stories, which are projected directly unto a big screen, are narrated by the dancers’ hands and fingers. The hands love, dance, travel, curl up together, climb, roam around different worlds.

Namasya – Shantala Shivalingappa

In the different traditional Indian dances, hands play a highly codified, frequently narrative role that is rooted in a sacred, ancestral art. In the Odissi, one of these dances, there are 67 different hand positions. Decorated in detail, they deliver the melody, just like feet deliver the rhythm.

Shantala Shivalingappa, a kuchipundi dancer, transposes her knowledge of traditional dance to contemporary dance.

Dans Namasya, she proposes 4 solos, choreographed in collaboration with Ushio Amagatsu, Pina Bausch and her own mother Savitry Nair. In each solo, she becomes aware of the vital role of the hands and, as such, places emphasis on them as dance incentives. Determined, strong, serious, light, subtle and gracious, her hands lead the way and prompt the rest of her body to follow suit.

In more depth


PEJU, Pierre. Enfance obscure. Paris : Gallimard, impr. 2011. 371 p. (Haute enfance).

Journal article

PLOUVIER, Jean-Luc (dir.), ADOLPHE, Jean-Marc, IMBAULT, Charlotte. « Thierry de Mey », in Mouvement, n°59, 2011, p. 8.

Dance company website

Up and Overt It / Suzanne Cleary & Peter Harding [en ligne]. Up and Overt It, dernière mise à jour 2017. Disponible sur :

More information

Biographie de l’auteur :

Après des années en danse-études, au Conservatoire d’Avignon, puis au Centre National de Danse Contemporaine d’Angers, Julie Charrier s’oriente vers la production de films documentaires et de captations de spectacles vivants principalement centrés autour de la danse contemporaine pour de nombreuses sociétés de production. Comme conseillère, puis éditorialiste, elle participe à la naissance et au développement de Numeridanse. Elle coordonne pour l’ACCN et le Ministère de la Culture, délégation à la danse, la numérisation du patrimoine chorégraphique français.

Elle assure la direction artistique et la production de la collection à 360 "Histoires d'espaces" qui interroge les nouvelles pistes que la réalité virtuelle offre au spectacle vivant.

Le Parcours « Danses de mains » a pu voir le jour grâce au soutien du Secrétariat général du Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication - Service de la Coordination des politiques Culturelles et de l'Innovation (SCPCI)



Julie Charrier


Sélection des extraits

Julie Charrier


Julie Charrier


Maison de la Danse

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